People

Shinji Hara×Chisako Takashima

GINZA CONNECTIVE VOL.4

Shinji Hara×Chisako Takashima

2012.01.01

A talk series with the violinist Chisako Takashima and the Ginza people. Ginza holds many personal and professional memories for Takashima. In this talk series, she thoroughly explores various aspects of the Ginza culture with her guests. Today’s guest is Shinji Hara, the fifth generation manager and bearer of the name of the long-standing Japanese footwear shop, Ginza Yoitaya.

There was a period when I worked as a salesman for a manufacturer.

Takashima
Could you please tell us the history of Yoitaya?
Hara 
It started when my ancestors first came here from Yoitamachi in Nagaoka, Niigata prefecture to open a footwear shop. That was 134 years ago.
Takashima
Has your shop always been in the current location?
Hara 
Yes, it has. Some people say that the area was covered in shepherd’s-purse flowers at the time.
Takashima
When did you start this trade?
Hara 
I started when I was 29, so it has been ten years now. I am the fifth generation manager.
Takashima
Did you have any uncertainties about starting this profession?
Hara 
Yes, I did have some. In fact, I worked a regular job for a while after graduating from high school. I worked as a salesman for a food product manufacturer.
Takashima
No kidding!
Hara 
Yes, and after about seven years I finally realized that I wanted to work in a trade.
Takashima
During that period, were you under any pressure from your father?
Hara 
He didn’t say anything, but he was worried. And actually it’s a good thing that he didn’t say anything.
Takashima
How many other footwear shops are there in Ginza?
Hara 
There are about five. There are much fewer specialty shops today than there used to be. Footwear shop culture is said to be from Edo. As the saying goes, Edo was the place for footwear, and Osaka was the place for food.
Takashima
Has Yoitaya introduced any special products?
Hara 
We introduced ‘jikazuke’ zori (‘zori’ are flat, thonged Japanese sandals) that have a very thin enamel layer on the heel. Simply changing the height of the heel can give the zori a very stylish appearance.
Ginza Yoitaya’s Jikazuke zori

We are very proud to offer immediate service by on-site craftsmen.

Takashima
I heard that you can custom order zori at Yoitaya that are made to fit your feet.
Hara 
Even if we measure the size of feet, size 23 cm feet can be completely different for each customer, for example if they have a higher arch or wider foot. We want to make footwear that is the perfect match. Also, the soles and hanao (thongs) of zori are separate, so you can create a completely original pair with different combinations.
Takashima
How many craftsmen are working for Yoitaya at the moment?
Hara 
There are three people including myself. At my shop, we are proud that there is always a craftsman on site. This means that you never have to leave your footwear behind — we will work on your order right away. Shops offering this type of service are rare.
Takashima
That is really wonderful. People are very busy and don’t have the time to come back to a shop again later to pick up your order.
Hara 
I think it’s not right to make a person wait days for their order.
Takashima
It is actually very surprising that this such a traditional shop would provide such immediate service.
Hara 
I think of this trade as a face-to-face business. We consider it important to have the customer try on the product at our shop so that we can adjust it to match their feet perfectly.
Takashima
Do you have many long-time customers?
Hara 
Yes, we do. Some customers have been visiting our shop since before I was born, and many customers come here together with their parents. We very much appreciate their business.

All List

銀座 らん月/三井住友銀行 銀座支店/ギンザのサヱグサ/
銀座千疋屋/Hatsuko(株)天賞堂/
GINZA三笠会館本店/西銀座駐車場/
みずほ銀行 銀座通支店/マロニエゲート銀座

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